June 16 and 17 saw the first of four BioBlitz sessions, welcoming nearly 1,000 people to Park Północny, Sopot, in Poland.
A BioBlitz – or a biological census – is a communal, citizen science effort to record as many species as possible within a designated area, over a given time. Ours took place across 24 hours, with scientists from five local institutions joining forces at Park Północny – a site on the Baltic Sea shore that covers forest, dunes, wetland and sandy shallows. Our first BioBlitz was organised by the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Science (IOPAN) with MARBEFES (MARine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning leading to Ecosystem Services), a project that has also received funding from Horizon Europe.
Around 600 macro-organism species were counted from land and sea, from invertebrates to birds to plants. The team also screened for DNA, including airborne DNA, to get a picture of the microorganisms in the area. Analysis is underway for this part of the BioBlitz, and we’ll share the results soon.
Part two of the BioBlitz involved a public engagement day on Saturday 17 June, with researchers showcasing collection and identification methods, and a chance to get hands-on with stereomicroscopes, aquaria and collection trays. Visitors could also take part in games, competitions, workshops and a scientific picnic. We’re delighted that nearly 1000 people visited across the day.
Thank you to the 37 scientists who took part in the search and identification, from five Polish institutes and universities:
- University of Łódź, specialising in hydrobiology
- University of Adam Mickiewicz, in Poznań, specialising in terrestrial minute invertebrates
- University of Gdańsk, featuring botanists, ichthyologists, teriologists and ornithologists
- Instytut Oceanologii (The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN)), with a focus on marine biology
- The Institute of Sea Fisheries, in Gdynia, specialising in plankton, benthos and meiofauna.
“We wanted to present the complex nature of the term ‘biodiversity’. There is no one person in the world who could identify all species, even in a simple, well-known public place. We also demonstrated a range of methods – from traditional butterfly nets to new machinery for genomic analyses,” said Jan Marcin Węsławski from IOPAN.
For people to understand the link between biodiversity and ecosystem function, it’s important to appreciate how full of diverse life our coasts and oceans are. BioBlitzes are a powerful way for us to share this message with local communities.